Monday, October 26, 2009

Unanswerable letters

thank you, Columbus. (marathon training group + a sister)

Dear Makers of Snuggie,

I believe I have found something that is better to do in a regular blanket than in a Snuggie. I was sitting at my computer, wearing my roommate's OSU Snuggie, pretty much looking as attractive as I get - as I'm sure my Michigan fan-friends agree - when the timer rang for the cookies. Unfortunately, cookie tray removal is something that is harder in a Snuggie than in a regular blanket. While I often appreciate the sleeves, they do not act as effective potholders. While I often get annoyed that I slouch enough for the Snuggie to slip forward off my shoulders, it is ever-so-much-more annoying when it slips forward into the oven's vicinity. Luckily for me and my lack of renter's insurance, I was able to handle the difficulty. But, Snuggie Makers, if I were to make a commercial for a regular blanket, I might use an anti-Snuggie moment of pulling cookies out of the oven. I might not be able to change the channel or answer the phone, but I would be able to lean into heated kitchen appliances.

Your fan,


Dear Unknown Song,

You were amazing last night at Veritas' service. I knew I would want to copy down the lyrics and listen to you on repeat, but I only remember one line ("you are strong, when I am weak") which is, apparently, in quite a large number of Christian songs. If I figure it out, or we sing it again - I will be sure to give you credit for slowing me down on such a glorious Sunday.

Your fan,


To My Personal Library,

Thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge on factors influencing parenting teens and educational attainment and program evaluations of community groups desiring to help. If only there was a nationally representative sample of data, or more input on the directionality of the influence... But alas, poor Yorick, it seems like this will be a good topic to write a 10-12 page paper on these methodological issues.

I was intrigued, MPL, by Julia McSweeney (assuming she's related to McSweeney's literary site) and her article in This American Life on learning more about the Bible. She reads the controversy, which most people do skip right over, and makes some great points that are worth discussing. For example, Jesus speaks in parables all the time - not even His disciples understand - why didn't he just switch to speaking so that others would know what He meant?

Lastly, I am hoping you will continue to grow. I appreciate the time-filling you give me, the time you take away, the non-fiction and the fiction, but I'd love to learn of some good (amateur or not-as-amateur) creative writing blogs. I recently introduced you to Three Stories High, a poetry/ creative venture sight by an educator in Baltimore. Unfortunately, she is so much aligned with my interests that I am afraid to keep looking and find some duds. So, if you want to get to your other library friends (dear readers, this is a metaphor for you) and share any creative writing authors or sites that they enjoy, I would gladly thank them.

Thanks again,


Dear Grand Rapids,

I am coming to visit in a few weekends. Get excited.


A Former Resident.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Get ready for the longest post ever - a.k.a. Blame it on the cin-ci-ci-ci-cin-cinnamon....

I am going to try to keep this short, but I kind of had the best. weekend. ever. and want to share it this way in case you don't really care and only want to glance at pictures.

Friday: Family wedding in Cleveland - lots of fun. Also, rented Billy Collins' Sailing Around the Room and The Best American Non-required Reading of 2006 which has some good short stories, Onion headlines, a military blog, and more. I may have officially dropped any desire I previously had to be a barista. On the plus side - nothing like a good laugh, right? We also developed a game where you say a mood (the more obscure, the better) and immediately take a picture. None were on my camera - perhaps Adventures in Waco or facebook will eventually pop up with pantomimed hunger, indignance, and bad-Christmas-present.

Sunday: If you want to see pictures of me running 26.2 miles (don't worry, it's not a 4:33.12-long video), go to My bib number was 4525, and yes, we are doing the Single Ladies dance at the beginning pictures. By the end, Kristi and I are dancing to Miley (we knew two lines) or Taylor Swift (who is quite hard to sing when you're out of breath, turns out.)

Summary of the Columbus marathon - I loved it! I am sore, but not as much as I thought I'd be, and running with the gang was so much fun. I didn't walk at all - but I did not have the stomach to eat Buckeyes at mile 26. Sorry, Mr. Thomas. Great idea, sort of. And if you want a good laugh, ask my friends what it was like to watch me on the subway stairs. And if you too just ran a marathon, and you've heard that walking backwards feels better- it does, but I caution you: walking backwards UP the stairs is not as helpful. You might fall down, back to square zero. (It's worse than square one.)

I had this cake waiting for me, courtesy of my roommate, who cheered me on in a couple of places.

Then, I darted off to a last-minute trip to NYC. Do you all know how much I miss the city? Long story short - I got randomly invited (as an interested observer) to a "convening" / critical conversations meeting on pregnant and mothering teens. People whose research I have been reading for the past few years were in attendance, in addition to educators, NYC lawyers, and community organizers. It was really interesting, and I'm really glad I went. Hopefully, I'll be able to stay in touch with them and possibly have a vested inference in helping the orhan-widow-exile-case of the pregnant and mothering teens. If this interests you, I can tell you more later. Or in future blog posts, you may not have a choice.

The meeting was at Fordham's Lincoln Center campus, so afterward, I walked through Central Park. (I didn't even walk backward for any of this walk!) I stayed with some friends and had a lot of fun. We also briefly played the moods-camera game, but I am not attaching any of those photos. Most with me in them end up looking like the suggested mood was "laughing really hard!" and who wants to put up pictures that they're not in?

We went out to eat Monday night at Dok Suni, a Korean restaurant, and then to Max Brenner's, a chocolate bar. While we may not have had the best experience - entertaining, at least - I had a s'mores sundae that was so rich and tasty I didn't know what to do with myself. Below, you can see the marshmallows - and that's not a spoon-out-of-the-jar-marshmallow creme. It's the real stuff.

Today, I flew back to Columbus. One thinig that I learned on my trip is that my approachable-ness breaches even New Yorkers' codes of conduct. I like hearing random stories, and when randoms say hello to me as I'm searching for cocoa sprinkles in Starbucks.

Long story short - er, long story long - running = awesome. friends = awesome. new york = awesome. convening = awesome. cake + s'mores ice cream + naps = delectable.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mashithhaa conversations

I have been involved in some amazing conversations in the past few weeks - OSU and the COTA bus system has provided me with some great conversation fodder. With big kids, little kids, kids who climb on rocks - many people. (Even kids who have had chicken pox - four times!)

First, the bus system. If you're not aware of "bus etiquette," it generally means - never sit next to somebody unless all possible rows are filled, and maybe offer a nice smile of pity to the person you are forcing to sit with you. I, however, have had a number of different experiences - I must look quite friendly!

One lady was going to be a caseworker because she thought she could really help people, which is awesome, and one younger guy was impressed by my attending grad school. I asked him what he wanted to do - and he stuttered for a minute before laughing and saying I asked him too quick. (He turned to his friends, who had taken up the last empty seats, to share his mirth.) I tried to remember a time when I didn't have at least three responses to the question "What do you want to do?" Granted, it's ranged from ice skater to actress to math teacher to my current answer of "research question mark" ... but I've always had one. I wish I could run into him again so that I could find out if he'd dreamed up a goal yet.

I've also had a conversation end with the rock and the guy telling me (censored version), "God's f-ing awesome!" These stories neglect to mention random guy who was stunned by me.

Other conversations have been with my cohort. I ate a real Korean dinner a few nights ago, even eating anchovies (because they couldn't remember the name in English, I didn't know what they were until they were up close, in my sesame leaf.) The whole meal (spicy hot soup, sesame leaf "wraps" with bulgogi and other toppings, and rice) was really good and four of the five Korean students in my program were there, so I got to learn about the culture. Nobody had eaten apple crisp, which is what I brought for dessert. Together, they decided it was mashithhaa (pronounced closer to mash-ta) - delicious - so I was happy.

In other news, every time that I go see a movie, I have dreams about vampires, apparently. And we didn't even see any previews for Twilight or Twilight-inspired movies. (The Informant! really confused me - but I laughed a lot.)

For those of you who are looking for ways to help, I have a friend who is doing Teach for America in Miami, Florida. She's teaching second graders at a high-poverty school, and she just recently put her classroom on "Adopt-a-Classroom." Find the information here for her classroom site. The site is neat because 100 percent of the donated money goes to her classroom; nothing is taken out for administration or upkeep. If you want to read her blog, it's and she tells fun stories and admits her struggles with moving from Miami of Ohio culture to Miami public-school culture.

To make you smile:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My bologna has a first name - and my applesauce has a surprise ingredient!

I went apple picking last weekend and picked up pounds and pounds of apples. I have been making applesauce almost daily and eating apple crisp all the time. (Of course, with classes going on now, I am a little busier, too.)
Here I am waving to the camera - really to Calah, because I've made applesauce with her for the past few years, but was unable to this year. "Hi, Calah!"

Then, I chopped apples, put all the chopped-pieces on the knife and slid it off into the pan. This process worked, most of the time, but when working with knives, that 5% of the time makes a big difference.
Here is me wincing at my little wound/ gigundo paper clip. I'm icing it and elevating it because I'm halfway into the applesauce and I want to finish.

Side note to everyone that I have delivered applesauce to: You did not receive this batch. I'm eating it - but only me, just in case the redish tint is not from the Johnathons.
This was supposed to be a picture of the time I finished, to let Calah know that this goes a lot faster when she's helping me. She can also see my second gauze pad attached to my thumb, and that I remembered to peel the apples this time! You win some, you lose some, I guess.
This is how my roommate found me when she came home. Stirring the applesauce with one hand and elevating the other. I'm just glad there's no picture of me using the computer with an elevated hand. (I ended up sitting on the floor with my computer on the table so that my elevated hand could still type - who says blondes aren't - what's that word? - smart. (Sorry, relative who actually forgot the word smart, I had to include it.)
While I took this for Calah, who you can pray for, by the way, because she got sick over the week - this picture applies to everyone who reads this blog, and probably some more people too.

I wish you were here! (x 100). (+5.)

That much.